1st female BGCCV board member to be inducted into Hall of Fame

1st female BGCCV board member to be inducted into Hall of Fame

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A local nonprofit is doing something special to honor a woman who broke barriers.

In just a few days, the late Janet Hollis will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley.

News Leader 9's Jason Dennis sat down with her family to learn what the clubs' first female board member was like and the legacy she left in Columbus.

"When she started, there were only two clubs and they were both boys' clubs," said Janet's daughter Mary Jane Hollis Link.  

"Her passion is what got me involved," said son-in-law Tony Link.

Tony, a former board president for The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley, says that board used to be just a boys club itself until his mother-in-law became the first woman on the board for the clubs.

"Even though she wouldn't have cared... that she was the first lady board member, I think having a lady like her being honored will inspire other people to do what she's done," said Janet's granddaughter Hannah Vongsavang. "She dedicated so many hours, 20 years, to the Boys & Girls Club."

"Everything about her was how to make Columbus better...and that's what she did," Mary Jane said.

Mary Jane described her mom as a dedicated, funny woman with infectious enthusiasm. Her husband Tony says Janet was an energizer bunny who had a colorful role in making Columbus great.

"She had this beautiful white hair, red lipstick, colorful clothes, carrying flowers and welcomed me to the family," Tony said. "She could walk in the room and light it up with her smile, energy, enthusiasm."

"She played the piano blindfolded or with her toes at parties," Mary Jane said. "She designed her own clothes."

Hannah says "Granny" loved everything about the Fountain City, with a lot of passions from the Boys and Girls Clubs to gardening.

"One of the first things I remember, besides her elegant dress and sequins, is being in her garden," Hannah said.

"I remember looking down at her garden, filled with daisy plants, and at that time, Mom volunteered to have all the boys come get the plants, take and sell them for extra money for the club," Mary Jane said.

Her work with many organizations like this one resulting in Janet being inducted into the Chattahoochee Valley Boys and Girls Clubs Hall of Fame.

"When she saw a need and decided to do something, she went after it," Mary Jane said.

"That's the heart and soul of what she was," Tony said. "She's gonna give back to this community. She brought a lot of color and flavor to the Boys Club."

"Her emphasis in changing a once-dominant sport program into one that incorporated the arts was a really big step," Hannah said.

That big shift is part of her legacy, with well-rounded clubs to this day. Speaking of community needs she met...

"She heard there weren't enough teachers in the art department, so one summer, she developed an art program, opened it up to all the volunteers in Columbus, Georgia," Mary Jane said.

So, what would Janet think about the Boys and Girls Clubs today?

"She'd be very excited about the programs that are there and growing," Hannah said. "Granny brought passion with her wherever she went and I'm sitting here as a 3rd generation board member because of that."

"If we could all have a little bit of her in us, life would be better," Tony said.

Janet will posthumously be inducted at the organization's Youth of the Year event on Thursday night, co-emceed by our Jason Dennis and Barbara Gauthier.

We'll have a special look at each of the four Youth of the Year finalists on News Leader 9 at 5:30 all next week.

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